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San Diego Autism Resources

The San Diego area offers many public and private services to assist parents concerned about their child's development.

Evaluations & Services

Evaluations for children under 3

  • UC San Diego's Autism Center for Excellence (ACE) provides free developmental evaluations of children between ages 12-36 months if autism or other delay is suspected. Enroll in a study to learn more.
  • San Diego Regional Center (SDRC) offers California Early Start, a state-funded agency that provides assessment and services for children under 3 years with developmental delays. Contact SDRC at 858-576-2996.

Evaluations for children over 3

  • San Diego Regional Center (SDRC) also provides assessment and services for children who meet their criteria for autistic disorder. Some children with behavioral difficulties who do not meet full criteria for autistic disorder may also sometimes qualify for services. Contact SDRC at 858-576-2996.
  • Your local school district will also provide evaluations for your child. If your child is eligible, your school district will provide services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and behavioral programming. Contact your local school district for additional information.

Services through Rady Children's Hospital

  • Developmental screenings for children up to 5 years old are available at Rady's Children's Care Connection (C3) free of charge through First Five Developmental Services. C3 also provides educational and enhancement classes for parents and children. See all locations or call 858-966-8391 to learn more.
  • Private evaluations are available at the Developmental Evaluation Clinic. This group of psychologists can evaluate and diagnose a range of developmental disabilities and other disorders, and they accept most insurance. Call 858-966-5817 for more information.
  • Rady Children's Hospital also conducts evaluations of speech and language, neurology, motor skills, and hearing. Call their main number at 858-966-1700 to learn more.

Other private services in the San Diego area

Several licensed clinical psychologists in the San Diego area have expertise in autism spectrum disorders. Many are listed on the website for the San Diego Chapter of the Autism Society of America.

Exceptional Family Resource Center

The Exceptional Family Resource Center is a community-based collaborative agency that offers support, information, and referrals. Services and supports are offered in Spanish and English. They also have a lending library with books, videos, etc. at their center in the Kearny Mesa area.

Call 619-594-7416 for more information.

Information for Teachers

Want to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

How to be a friend

Need help getting kids to talk and play together?

"Kids Helping Kids" is a peer training guide designed to facilitate interaction among differently-abled students is based on research by Karen Pierce and Laura Schreibman. To implement the training, download the picture-based peer guide How to be a Great friend (PDF) and the companion teacher guide Kids Helping Kids (PDF).
Teacher Manual: Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Non-verbal child?

Autism Speaks: Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorders (PDF) - Autism Speaks has recently published a short manual designed to teach parents the basics on how to use visual supports with children with autism.

Resources for Parents

Information on Implementing ABA Treatment with Your Child

Starting up a strong treatment program for your child requires a qualified team. Read the updated Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP) Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Treatement (PDF) to find out the opinion of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) regarding standards and issues that are important to consider. Also visit the Autism Speaks website to learn more general information regarding affordable access to ABA as mandated by law in some states (e.g. California and New York).

Additional resources

Web-based video glossary

A web-based video glossary to help parents and professionals learn more about the early warning signs of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) was created by Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research. This glossary was developed together with First Signs, the leader in early identification and intervention of children with developmental delays and disorders, and Florida State University.

The glossary, which contains more than 100 video clips that illustrate both typical and atypical development, is available to the public free of charge at:

Non-Profit organizations

Several non-profit organizations exist nationally. Each group's website contains a range of information and resources:

Georgia Department of Public Health, poster of "Talk With Me Baby" Initiative